Arts

Nothing says spring quite like the return of the beloved street-meat vendor

Kajahni Tharmarajan | Fulcrum Staff

Photo by Justin Labelle

EVERY YEAR, CANADIANS look to the groundhog to forecast the end of winter. At the University of Ottawa, students look to their own seasonal forecaster: the hot dog man.

“Much like the laughter of students on Tabs lawn playing Frisbee or soccer, or the smell of flowers, the hot dog man is a sign of spring,” says Robbie Callahan, a fourth-year health sciences student.

The hot dog stand between Tabaret and the Arts building draws small crowds every day during the warmer months.

“I can never help myself—at least once every spring,” says Callahan. “Armed with the knowledge that the hot dog ingredients are the stuff of nutritionists’ nightmares, and that three dollars could buy a loaf of bread for a week … I always crumble.”

Even on the more chilly spring days, students will brave the weather to get their street-meat fix.

“Honestly, the hot dog man is one of the main reasons that makes U of O so awesome,” says Bahareh Manesh, a third-year biochemistry student. “A fresh hot dog in the outdoors is the best kind to eat.”

Little is known about the hot dog man, save for his friendly face, his familiar spot, and his tasty offerings. He has refused interviews with campus media on several occasions.

Students don’t even have to eat his hot dogs to appreciate their value; the reputation of these hot dogs precedes them.

“I’ve never had a hot dog from the hot dog guy, but I’ve only ever heard good things,” says Victoria Mitchell, a third-year English and communications student. “Apparently they’re pretty addictive—they’re like the crack of street meat.”

There’s also something endearing about the soft-spoken hot dog man. Some find his very presence on campus reassuring.

“He’s kind of like a guardian angel for U of O because he’s always welcoming you onto that pathway beside Arts,” says Lindsey Li, a third-year international and globalization studies student.

Fourth-year English student John Kyle Wallace lauds the fine street cuisine the hot dog man brings to campus every spring.

“He is a master of his craft,” he says, “and he has a much bigger impact on the people of this campus than he imagines.”